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Park Board to amend bylaw to ban breeding of captive whales, dolphins, and porpoises

July 31 2014

"I think we struck a balance between supporting the good work of the Aquarium and continuing the discussion of the ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity,” said Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper.

Park Board office in Stanley Park

The Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved a motion tonight concerning the Vancouver Aquarium, including an amendment to the Parks Control Bylaw to ban the breeding of captive whales, dolphins, and porpoises in Vancouver parks, unless they are a threatened cetacean species.

Committee established to review the well-being of all ceteceans owned by the Aquarium

The Board also directed staff to establish an Oversight Committee of animal welfare experts that will provide public oversight to ensure the well-being of all cetaceans owned by the Aquarium. This committee will prepare a bi-annual report on the status and well-being of all cetaceans owned by the Aquarium.

Board heard from the public, Dr. Gaydos, and Aquarium representatives

The motion was approved after the Board heard a cross-section of public opinion on the Aquarium practice of keeping captive whales, dolphins, and porpoises.

“There were a lot of intelligent, thoughtful, passionate presentations and we had a lot of information to digest,” said Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper. “It’s a very complex issue, which is why I called for the Special Meeting and requested a fact-finding report on the Aquarium’s current operations pertaining to cetaceans in comparison with other aquariums. I think we struck a balance between supporting the good work of the Aquarium and continuing the discussion of the ethics of keeping cetaceans in captivity.”

133 people registered to speak at special meetings on Saturday, July 26 and Monday, July 28. The Board received emails, public comments, and enquiries from thousands of concerned residents on all sides of the debate.

At the Saturday, July 26 meeting, Dr. Joseph K. Gaydos, wildlife veterinarian and Chief Scientist at UC Davis Wildlife Health Center’s SeaDoc Society Program, presented his review of Aquarium operations as they pertain to cetaceans and how they compare against similar aquariums across North America.

Dr. Gaydos found that the cetacean program at the Aquarium contributes to marine mammal conservation and allows the Aquarium to provide a stranding and response program to injured marine mammals. All cetaceans owned by the Aquarium are deemed non-releasable and therefore would not survive in the wild.

The Park Board also heard from Aquarium representatives who presented on programming education and rehabilitation related to cetaceans.

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The Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium

Learn about the relationship and current agreeement between the Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium in a memo from the Park Board's General Manager.

Download the GM's memo

Last modified: Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:48:13